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[Newsmaker] Over 90% of public says climate crisis should be major presidential election issue: survey

70% think presidential hopefuls do not take climate crisis seriously, poll shows

Environmental activists protest in front of a Korea East-West Power Co. coal plant in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, Aug. 20. (Yonhap)
Environmental activists protest in front of a Korea East-West Power Co. coal plant in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, Aug. 20. (Yonhap)
More than 90 percent of South Koreans think the climate crisis should be a prominent issue in the upcoming presidential election, a survey showed Sunday.

According to the Gallup Korea poll, conducted at the request of environmental group Green Korea and involving 1,500 people nationwide, 91.1 percent of the respondents said Korea’s climate crisis response should be a major topic ahead of the March 9 election.

Where most public opinion polls target people over 19, Green Korea said, the minimum age for this particular survey was 14.

Despite the importance of climate issues in the eyes of the public, the survey showed, 70 percent of the respondents thought the presidential hopefuls and their parties were not treating the climate crisis as important and 52.2 percent said it was not being emphasized at all.

Regarding the impact of campaign pledges on dealing with the climate crisis, 88.1 percent of the respondents said they would assign significant weight to climate response promises when they cast their votes.

“At a time when the climate crisis has already become a reality in Korea and around the world, the climate crisis response should be treated as a top political agenda,” Green Korea activist Lee Da-ye said.

“In case of US President Biden, he proposed the climate change response policy as one of his four major national priorities in his election pledge. (Korea’s) presidential candidates should set an upward target for reducing greenhouse gases and present specific policies to transform the entire socioeconomic system accordingly.”

Park Jin-hee, Director of the Energy and Climate Policy Institute for Just Transition, said the only adequate climate crisis countermeasure was to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors of society.

“Candidates for the primary race, who are pledging to lead our future society, should break away from the passive stance that they have shown so far and engage in policy debates over how to respond to the climate crisis, which is directly related to the security of our future society,” Park added.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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